Plame Flame Burns Brighter

In today’s NYT, a mildly interesting report on the progress of the Plame Investigation claims that there’s proof that the WH was truly pissed off by Wilson’s article.

The lawyers said that prosecutors have cited evidence that White House officials were extremely upset by Mr. Wilson’s article and were angry at the C.I.A. for sending him to Africa, in contrast to the White House’s effort to portray the reaction as only mildly concerned.

This isn’t going to come as much of a surprise to anybody who was paying attention when this first exploded a few months ago. What is interesting is how much of it is swirling around the higher levels of WH staff. Press Secretary Scott McClellan and his aide Adam Levine have both been questioned by the grand jury, and the bulk of the investigation is centered on Veep Cheney’s office–John Hannah and VP Chief-of-Staff Scooter Libby have been mentioned as targets, and VP press secretary Catherine Martin’s cellphone records are being examined. Somebody is apparently actually taking the investigation seriously, and I admit that is something of a surprise.

The word on Patrick Fitzgerald, the US Attorney for Chicago who was appointed to head the investigation when Ashcroft recused himself, was that he had a rep as a tough guy who was careful but conscientious and followed evidence wherever it went without regard for political ramifications. I had my doubts (they said virtually the same things about Kenneth Starr when he was appointed SP on the Whitewater case, and it turned out to be all lies; Starr’s real record was as a political op whose legal history was about as partisan as it could have been) but maybe it was true after all. The investigation is being pursued along the lines it should be–for a change–instead of being limited to examinations of unproductive, low-level potential scapegoats who likely didn’t know much but also didn’t have the influence to block prosecutors from getting their records.

The real culprit may be revealed in spite of all my cynical doubts. Dare I hope?

Sidelight: The source(s) of this story is (are) identified in pretty confusing language as “lawyers on the case.” Now what the hell does that mean? Whose lawyers? JD lawyers? Defendants’ lawyers? Witness’ lawyers? Fitzgerald’s prosecuting lawyers? All of the above?

I take the report as accurate because what it says makes sense and is in line with other reports on the investigation’s progress, but the vague sourcing is frustrating. I’m not asking Johnston for names but is it too much to ask him to tell us whose side they’re on so we know what their prejudices might be?

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